BIG MEAT THEFT: Paul Shane Lovett, 52, outside the Bundaberg courthouse. Lovett yesterday pleaded guilty to driving the getaway car for two men who stole up to $600 worth of meat from Coles last year.
BIG MEAT THEFT: Paul Shane Lovett, 52, outside the Bundaberg courthouse. Lovett yesterday pleaded guilty to driving the getaway car for two men who stole up to $600 worth of meat from Coles last year. Ross Irby

'He got nervous': Silly sausage walks free after meat heist

A MAN who drove the getaway car for two men who stole more than $500 worth of meat from a Bundaberg supermarket has escaped a term of actual imprisonment.

Paul Shane Lovett, 52, pleaded guilty to one count of accessory after the fact to robbery in the Bundaberg District Court yesterday.

Last November, Lovett and co-offendors Barry James Hearn and Aaron Scott Hearn drove to Coles Kensington about 1pm, when the Hearns robbed the local supermarket.

As Lovett sat in the car, the Hearns grabbed between $500 and $600 of meat from shelves.

Staff tried to stop the men as they ran out the store, but were immediately rebuffed by verbal threats.

Once back in the car, Lovett was told to "drive, drive".

Defence barrister Jacob Robson said his client "didn't know them (the Hearns) very well".

"He got nervous and made a split-second decision ... He'd only met them once before," he said.

Lovett was found by police and arrested later that day (November 5).

The next morning he was granted bail in the Bundaberg Magistrates Court.

The court heard Lovett had a background of drinking but had not had a drink in a long time.

He also is the father of eight children and suffers from schizophrenia.

Pointing out that Lovett had not participated in the actual theft and was merely "the getaway driver", Crown prosecutor Christopher Cook submitted the 52-year-old be sentenced to a term of imprisonment ranging from 12 to 18 months.

Mr Robson, however, disagreed, saying the proposed penalty was too high considering one of the two principle offenders (Barry Hearn) had received only three months more (21 months) than the maximum term of prosecution's proposed range.

This sentence, along with Aaron Hearn's, was handed down May 1.

Judge Katherine McGinness told the court it was "clear (Lovett) was aware they (the Hearns) had done something wrong because a staff member called (them) a thief through the window as (Lovett) drove away.

She sentenced him to 12 months in prison suspended for 12 months.

Aaron Hearn received the harshest penalty of the three men and was sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison with parole on October 7, 2019.